Recognising inequality: ableism in Egyptological approaches to disability and bodily differences

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This paper employs a historiographical approach to review the allied fields of Egyptology and Egyptian Archaeology in relation to studies of disability and bodily differences in ancient Egypt. We incorporate critical disability studies and embodiment theories to consider whether ableism is prevalent across these disciplines. The focus of this study has been inverted from ‘identifying’ disability. Instead our primary driving question is: are Egyptological approaches to bodily differences and disabilities contributing to a production and maintenance of ableism in Egyptology? Here we first identify ableist narratives within numerous methodologies highlighting the need to reconsider existing approaches, terminologies, models, and assumptions regarding studies of disability in the ancient past. We then challenge readers to recognise ableism as a form of inequality in the existing scholarship, and in turn, call for better awareness of assumptions relating to bodily norms, terminologies, and inclusivity in ancient world studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)502-515
Number of pages14
JournalWorld Archaeology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • disability
  • Egyptian archaeology
  • ableism
  • inequality


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